Since opening Horton Common in 2014 I think twice I’ve had guests on-site who needed to change a caravan tyre. I believe one was due to a flat and the other was as they noticed significant sidewall cracking on one of their caravan tyres. If you are a caravan beginner and you have never changed a caravan tyre before you might be in for some ‘fun’. While the concept of changing the tyre is pretty straight forward for most people, the actual process of changing a flat caravan tyre can present various issues. Therefore, with this post, I wanted to discuss how to change a flat caravan tyre. How to address various issues that might present themselves while you are actually changing the tyre but also how to avoid some other issues which might present themselves.
Now, if you do have to change a flat tyre on your caravan hopefully the information below is of use to you. However, nobody actually wants to be changing a caravan flat tyre at the side of a road in the wind and rain. Therefore, its always a good idea to check the features/terms of your breakdown cover. If your breakdown cover includes changing flat caravan tyres let them do it. It will save you getting dirty and the stress of trying to change a tyre at the side of the road. However, I would still encourage you to read the information below so you are prepared to change a flat caravan tyre if you absolutely have to. Furthermore, there is important information on how to check the condition of your spare tyre. After all, it doesnt matter if your caravan has a spare tyre if its not actually safe to use.
Introduction on How to Change A Caravan Tyre
Reading about how to do something is great, but often seeing someone actually doing it is more beneficial. Therefore, for this post, I’ve included a couple of videos from popular caravan ‘YouTubers’. The first video from Dan Trudgian below covers the most important steps on how to change a flat caravan tyre. You can then continue reading below for a few of my own hints and tips. For instance, if you do have a flat caravan tyre actually getting the jack into position can be tricky. Therefore, I’ll discuss a method to address that issue. Obviously, a key part of changing a caravan tyre is being able to jack up the caravan. I’ve got a separate post on how to jack up a caravan, so please read that if you are unsure how to do it safely.
So now you have watched Dan’s video above on how to change a flat caravan tyre I’m going to flesh out the subject a little more with my own hints and tips. For instance, as Dan shows in the video above, the issue of jacking up a caravan with a flat tyre can present a problem.
Issues Jacking Up a Caravan With a Flat Tyre
Owning a caravan jack and knowing how to use it is one thing. However, when you have a flat tyre on the caravan it can present a significant issue. With a flat tyre, the caravan chassis/jacking point is closer to the ground. Hence, you might not actually be able to fit the jack under the caravan. This obviously creates quite a significant dilemma. How can you change a flat caravan tyre if you cannot even get the jack under the caravan!?
Let’s presume you don’t want to start digging away under the caravan to fit the jack into position. Well, this is where another caravan accessory can come in very handy. What you want to do is get out one of your levelling ramps and place it in front of the wheel with the flat tyre. Then using your tow car pull the caravan up onto the levelling ramp. You will then have gained several inches in height between the ground and the caravan chassis. Hence, enough room to get your jack into position.
Levelling ramps are sometimes the first ‘tool’ you need to start the process of replacing a flat caravan tyre: Image – Amazon
Its also worth noting, you may have to use the levelling ramp method to raise the height of the caravan to actually get access to the AL-KO spare wheel carrier under the caravan. Otherwise, the caravan may be too low to lower and pull out the spare wheel carrier. Now, depending on your make and model of caravan, the spare wheel may actually be stored inside the caravan under a bed/seat. This is arguably a better solution for a couple of reasons as discussed below.
How Old is Your Spare Caravan Tyre?
As Dan found out in the video above, when it comes to changing a flat tyre on your caravan you may actually find out that the spare tyre is not fit for purpose. As I discuss in my post on how long do caravan tyres last a tyre older than 5-7 years is not fit for purpose. You cannot use remaining tyre tread depth as an indicator that the tyre is safe to use. Caravan tyres over 5 years will likely start to show signs of sidewall cracking which presents a higher risk of tyre blowouts. Having a caravan spare wheel under 5 years of age is important, along with the fact it must be inflated to the correct pressure.
As well as checking the age/condition of you caravan spare wheel you also need to check its at the correct pressure for the weight of your caravan so its a suitable replacement for the flat tyre: Image – Amazon
The problem is, while many people will check the condition/age of the tyres fitted to their caravan they will often forget about the condition/age of the spare wheel. Therefore, if you are not sure on the age/condition or your caravan spare wheel I urge you to check it asap before your next trip. You want to be confident if you do get a flat tyre on your caravan the spare tyre is fit for purpose.
Issues with the AL-KO Spare Wheel Carrier
Depending on the make and model of your caravan the spare wheel will be located either in the caravan under the bed/seats or under the caravan. Most caravans in the UK are based on the AL-KO chassis and use the AL-KO spare wheel carrier. This is essentially a cradle which suspends and secures the spare wheel under the body of the caravan. Below is a quick video on how to lower the AL-KO spare wheel carrier to get access to the spare wheel.
Now, the AL-KO spare wheel carrier is notoriously tricky to use and slide out. The sliding mechanism operates by galvanised metal tubes sliding inside another tube. However, general road dirt can affect the sliding mechanism. Furthermore, over time the galvanising can fail and corrosion becomes an issue. In other words, the sliding mechanism stops sliding. Hence, its a good idea a couple of times a year to lower the AL-KO spare wheel carrier and then lubricate the rails with lithium spray grease. While you’re at it, its a good idea to use that same lithium grease to service the corner steadies.
Is Your Spare Tyre Being Damaged By The AL-KO Spare Wheel Carrier?
As you can gather from my comments above, with this post I’m trying to emphasis that the condition of your spare tyre is the most important factor when it comes to changing a flat caravan tyre. Therefore, its disappointing to note that several people have found that the spare AL-KO spare wheel carrier itself can actually be responsible for tyre sidewall damage. Below is a video from Martin the ‘Caravan Nut’ demonstrating this issue and his own personal solution.
As you can see from the video above the weight of the spare tyre resting on the bars of the AL-KO spare wheel carrier can leave flat spots on the tyre’s sidewall. Its not clear what impact this would have on the life of the tyre and its safe use, but its definitely not a good thing. As can be seen in the video, Martin had a relatively new spare tyre and the indentations in the tyre sidewall were already present after a relatively short period of time sat in the cradle. His solution was to use additional support in the centre of the wheels securing point to lift the sides of the tyre off the cradle.
However, in one of Martins later videos, he actually chooses to remove his AL-KO spare wheel carrier altogether and store the spare wheel inside his caravan under a bed. In doing so Martin also saved a little bit of caravan weight (6kg), slightly increasing his payload allowance. However, if you are going to store the spare wheel inside the caravan under a bed I would encourage the use of spare wheel bracket. Otherwise under heavy/emergency braking that spare wheel could do quite a bit of damage inside the caravan.
My Top Tip for Changing a Caravan Flat Tyre – Knee Pads!
Now, when its comes to changing/swapping a caravan flat tyre you want to make sure you have the necessary jack, wheel wrench etc. Having gloves to hand is also a good idea. However, these are all pretty obvious tools and accessories. An accessory which I’m a big fan of and I wear pretty much every day when I’m doing DIY and maintenance around Horton Common is knee pads. When it comes to working on/setting up your caravan on site I think everyone should have knee pads in their caravans side locker. And obviously, knee pads will come in very handy when it comes to changing a flat tyre. Not only to stop you getting dirty but also to save you knee caps!
I would encourage every caravan owner to have a pair of knee pads in the caravan side locker which can come in very hand for jobs such as changing a flat tyre: Image – Amazon
Conclusions on How to Change a Caravan Flat Tyre
With this particular post, I didn’t want to write about the finer detail of actually changing over the flat tyre and spare wheel, Dan’s video above does a good job of discussing that detail. What I wanted to emphasise is the other potential issues when trying to change a caravan flat tyre. Hence, what to do if you cannot actually get the jack into position and making sure the condition of your spare caravan tyre is fit for purpose. Its likely when many people swap a flat caravan tyre for their spare they are just replacing one failed/unsafe tyre for another. Therefore, please check the condition/age of your caravan spare tyre as soon as possible. Also, you may potentially wish to avoid the use of the AL-KO spare wheel carrier for the reasons shown above and store your spare wheel inside your caravan.
I’m an affiliate for ASDA tyres, so if you do need a new spare tyre and you visit their site through the link below its much appreciated. However, if they do not offer a tyre with the correct load rating for your caravan, find an alternative supplier who does. Anyway, thanks for reading, I hope you found the above information/videos on how to change a flat caravan tyre useful. I also hope at some point in the near future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common caravan site. 🙂